Global nuclear disarmament

Favourite pipe-dream of the pacifist since 1945.

Will probably happen within my lifetime. Supporting it has become a significantly more acceptable view since the end of the Cold War. Here’s my over-optimistic view on world politics and how it will lead to a slow worldwide disarmament.

It will probably be piecemeal and unilateral, for the most part. The less powerful nuclear weapons states — France, India, and Pakistan — will be the first to disarm. North Korea’s current political situation is untenable in the long-term and will probably lead to some kind of democratic transition which will involve disarmament.

The UK already has strong public opposition to the current renewal of its nuclear weapons programme. Perhaps when it’s time to renew them again in 30 years, the opposition will come through and the UK will disarm.

That leaves Israel, the US, China, and Russia. Israel might conceivably disarm if a long-term peaceful resolution with Palestine is found. Disarmament of the remaining three is a significantly trickier proposition to foresee.

China or Russia would likely be the first. I don’t know how it would happen — perhaps a democratic transition in China; perhaps the eventual death of Putin would change the Russian political climate, and some mismanagement scandal might lead the public there to develop a view against nuclear warheads. It’s quite possible that the addition of China might make a successor to the START programmes more likely to lead to total trilateral disarmament between the three. Or alternatively, an agreement that e.g. each country can only have a small number of nuclear weapons and no active facilities to make more. That would pave the way to each country deciding individually that this small stock of arms is a waste of time and money and getting rid of them altogether.